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How to sell magazine advertising during a crisis

“We’re in a unique position to lead. Because when times are good you should advertise, but when times are bad you MUST advertise.” This is Ryan Dohrn’s rallying cry to magazine publishers on his latest podcast episode: Helping advertisers understand the importance of marketing amidst COVID-19.

Ryan Dohrn hosts a podcast called Ad Sales Nation, which focuses on the media sales business, including print and digital magazine publishing. In his latest podcast episode, Dohrn focuses on how to sell advertising during a crisis.

Ryan Dohrn
Ad Sales Nation podcast host Ryan Dorhn.

Dohrn quotes American political philosopher Thomas Paine: “We must lead, we must follow, or we must get out of the way.” 

With most publishers experiencing higher website traffic and engagement levels since the COVID-19 outbreak, Dohrn explains that magazine publishers have an opportunity to leverage this and lead their advertisers through the crisis. 

He says that publishers need to help advertisers understand that “when times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you MUST advertise.” 

But, it’s going to take a bit of hard work – more sales effort, a little analysis of the right companies to target, and tailoring marketing strategies to each client. 

“We’re going to work hard to help our advertisers – not only to survive the current situation, but to thrive,” Dorhn says. 

So, what’s Dohrn’s ad sales strategy during COVID-19? 

Identify the three types of crisis clients 

Dorhn says there are three types of advertisers and your approach with each should be different, because they’ll be responding to the coronavirus situation differently.   

  1. Slam on the breaks advertisers 
  2. Wait and see advertisers 
  3. Carpe diem advertisers 

Slam on the breaks advertisers

Dorhn explains, ‘Slam on the breaks’ advertisers are not usually following a logical path, but making an emotional decision to stop their marketing spend. 

Where you might have secured their advertising by using a fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) technique (“your competitors are featured..”), Dohrn says that they now pull their advertising on the basis of FONO – fear of not obeying. 

Dorhn says that logic is unlikely to change their mind – but you can explain that not everyone is making changes to their marketing spend. 

Wait and see advertisers 

‘Wait and see’ advertisers are usually more logical, Dorhn says. You can present a moderately compelling case as to why they should stay the course. 

Dohrn suggests using a NASCAR analogy with this group to keep their marketing spend: “The moment you come off the track and hit the pits, that’s the moment when you end up a lap down.” 

Carpe diem advertisers 

‘Carpe diem’ advertisers are looking for an opportunity in the crisis, and Dohrn says that these are the advertisers that you want to focus on right now. 

They’ve looked back at historical examples of companies securing market share during previous crises, and they want to do the same. 

Work a 3×3 grid 

Now that you’ve identified the three types of advertisers, look at the industry segments that your advertisers fall into. 

Dohrn suggests selecting three of these segments, and taking three advertisers for each category. Continue working through the grid – with different advertisers – until you find the ‘carpe diems’. 

Change the conversation 

Dohrn says that sales conversations need to change so that they aren’t tone deaf to the current situation, but warns to be careful of how you refer COVID-19. 

“Don’t add fuel to the fire. Don’t refer to it as a pandemic, a crisis – call it a situation. Don’t downplay it, I think that makes you look foolish, but be careful about how you talk about it.” 

Then follow a simple, three step process: 

  1. Empathise with the client without getting into a debate or the emotion 
  2. Present historical data of brands that have built market share by marketing themselves during tough times
  3. Give the advertiser some ideas – revenue ideas, changing ad copy, work with them to support them in detailed ways.  

Dorhns says “You’ve got to dig deep and find the money. Because we have historical evidence of businesses that have gone through crises – and what they have found is that it is almost always more cost-effective to stay the course than to make dramatic changes to their marketing plans.” 

“You’ve also really got to ask yourself – what are we going to do to carpe diem ourselves?” 

You can listen to the whole episode on how to sell advertising during a crisis at Dohrn’s Ad Sales Nation podcast page. 

About Ryan Dorhn

Ryan Dohrn is the creator of the 360 Ad Sales Training system and is an internationally recognised media revenue consultant. Ryan actively sells print, digital, broadcast, event sponsorships, exhibit space and radio. He has trained and coached over 15,000 ad sales reps to date and speaks over 60 times per year. Ryan loves teaching ad sales reps his simple and effective way to achieve ad sales success. Ryan has media clients in Australia, Spain, UK, Holland and the USA.

Dorhn is also a regular contributor to the Niche Publishing Network. You can access his articles here

Written by Lyndsie Clark

Niche Publishing Network Founder and Editor Lyndsie Clark has over 10 years of niche publishing experience, working in a variety of roles spanning B2B editorial, sales, operations, events, BD, and management.

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